Quick n’ dirty biltong maker

Craft & Design
Quick n’ dirty biltong maker

Twitterer @monkeysailor (aka Andrew Lewis) posted links to photos of his el cheapo mini biltong maker.

@make @craft Behold! $2 and 15 mins of awesome biltong making goodness! http://bit.ly/9ldBZz

What on earth is biltong, you ask? Let’s ask Wikipedia:

Biltong is a kind of cured meat that originated in South Africa. Many different types of meat are used to produce it, ranging from beef through game meats to fillets of ostrich from commercial farms. It is typically made from raw fillets of meat cut into strips following the grain of the muscle, or flat pieces sliced across the grain. It is similar to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats, but differ in their typical ingredients, taste and production process. The word biltong is from the Dutch bil (“rump”) and tong (“strip” or “tongue”).

I like the way he hangs the meat inside the curer.

30 thoughts on “Quick n’ dirty biltong maker

  1. stbtra says:

    is this just a food dehydrator?

    1. Andrew Lewis says:

      Pretty much, it’s just a 12v fan that blows constant air over the meat. You can use a halogen lamp to warm the chamber, but I found it works fine without extra heat.

      It should work for things like apple rings and droe wors, but I haven’t tried it yet.

      1. Gareth Branwyn says:

        What spice recipe do you use, Andrew?

        1. Andrew Lewis says:

          I’m just this minute putting together a decent blog, so I can get all of my recipes and mini-projects in one place. I’ll post a link once I have it ready :)

        2. Andrew Lewis says:

          I’ve put my recipe for biltong online here: http://www.upcraft.it/archives/120
          there’s nothing really unusual in there, but you can vary the ingredients to suit your taste.

  2. Chrome6 says:

    The only problem with this is too little biltong!
    I use a standard dehydrator, and a recipe that I found online. My friends from Zimbabwe approve- but they promise me some real african biltong someday.

    1. Gareth Branwyn says:

      Wow. Nice. That couldn’t be easier. Have you tried this, RootyB?

      1. RootyB says:

        Not yet, but I have lots of faith in Mr. Brown. I’d like to this summer, though.

        I’ve heard concerns that it wouldn’t heat the meat up enough, but it’s not heat that dries meat out, it’s the constant airflow, so I think it’d probably be fine.

        Besides, I suspect that Food Network’s lawyers wouldn’t have allowed him to suggest it if they weren’t pretty sure it wasn’t going to give someone food poisoning.

  3. vivi says:

    There’s a similar Italian cured meat called “coppiette”, it’s extremely tasty and makes me want to build this device right now :-)

    Wouldn’t you want to keep it in a cool place to keep bacterial proliferation low while dehydrating ?

    How long did it take to dry the piece of meat in the photo ?

    1. Andrew Lewis says:

      The meat is bathed in vinegar, and well spiced with salt before it is hung. This is enough to deter bacteria. Unlike bacon, biltong is usually prepared in hot climates, and the heat helps to dry the meat faster. Some biltong makers actually include a heating element to speed up the process.

      The meat in the photo had been hanging for one day, and I left it drying for another 3 days. It was quite a large piece of steak with a weight over 1KG.

  4. jojones says:

    How did you supply power to the fan?

    1. Andrew Lewis says:

      I used a 7.5 volt plug in transformer. The fan was 12 volt, but I chose a 7.5v adapter because:

      1) I had one lying around
      2) It reduced the noise of the fan

      Any spare plug-in style adapter with a voltage between 5-12 volts should be fine :)

  5. jojones says:

    How did you supply power to the fan?

    1. MárcioFão says:

      I think you can use a Battery cell or a electronic transformer, those with multiple voltage selection switch connected on the power grid

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

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